Most days, I will drive to our offices in Parnell, usually following a route along the waterfront. This is becoming increasingly difficult since traffic lanes have been reprioritised for cyclists and pedestrians (a good thing, right?!), plus the disruption of ongoing construction.
However, my commute has enabled me to keep a close eye on the progress of Commercial Bay as it takes shape, amidst the announcements of continual delays (watch this space today...!!). We are assisting retailers with new concepts in the development, so have an active interest in its progression. The idea of this development opening has been a distant thought for some time, and it doesn't look like this will change anytime soon. We had anticipated a September opening, although there has been an announcement today of further delays.
It was always going to be a year of change, and 2019 has been the year where a large number of significant retail projects will be completed. With little over half the year remaining (glass half full right?), there are a number of thoughts which will be clarified or debunked in the not-so-distant future.
1. How the Saturated Hospitality Market will fare?
If it feels like the NZ design blogs and magazines are reviewing new eateries every week, it is because they are. Our culinary landscape is at an all-time high – for both quality and choice – and this is only going to get better. There are major new hospitality hotspots under construction at Commercial Bay and Westfield Newmarket, both boasting attractive points of difference with major international names. They will both cater to different catchments but I wonder which of the two will drive a stake in the ground as the new hot place to try in the market? With Westfield looking likely to be open well before Commercial Bay, and in time for Christmas and Summer 2019/20, this is where my bets would be.
2. How will our Fitout construction market cope?
Tauranga Crossing opened 50 new stores in April, and this somewhat felt like we were dipping our toes in the water with what is to come. Our archaic and clunky consenting process (a topic in itself) is always challenging, and this was no different with the Crossing. The interpretation of NZ Building Code and requirements between the councils is consistently inconsistent. However, on the most part, the retail tenancies were delivered on time from the familiar pool of contractors. As we look towards Westfield Newmarket and Commercial Bay – there are hundreds of stores to be delivered concurrently, and I feel that it will be the assistance of the landlord and ensuring their supporting systems and processes will be the major point of difference in how the delivery of these spaces will unfold. With the major bottleneck, I also wonder if this level of retail/fitout construction is sustainable for NZ going forward...
3. What will our high streets look like?
It has been reported that there has been a rise in retail vacancies across the Queen Street, Parnell, Newmarket and Takapuna high streets. Many retailers have relocated whilst construction and redevelopment occurs across the new centre assets – so it leaves me wondering what effect this will have to the high street landscape once the new spaces are open. There is a long term demand for new space, driven by an increase in apartment and tourist numbers – but this may look different in the short term, we will see.
4. How will local retailers respond to increased competition?
Major international brands are setting up shop within Westfield Newmarket and Commercial Bay, as well as in other major retail spaces like Sylvia Park and Botany Town Centre. These brands enter the NZ retail landscape with new attractive product, large marketing budgets and integrated store experiences that will be surprising, engaging and attractive for NZ shoppers. Local retailers are already facing challenges of larger rents and increased competition – so it will be interesting to see how they can position themselves and communicate with their customers in a way that is both relevant and engaging.
However 2019 plays out, we are lucky to have such a vibrant and exciting retail market – one which is only getting better.
RCG Finalist in NZ Interior Awards
2019 Interior Awards Finalists have been released, and we are ecstatic to have been selected again! Our workplace concept for CloudXchange NZ Ltd, specifically our bespoke cloudwall, has been recognised as one of the best interiors of 2019. The design quality and innovation on display outdoes itself year on year; NZ really does punch well above its weight - something the entire industry can be proud of. Congratulations to all other finalists - we look forward to celebrating come June 27th at MOTAT.
In the Press
Local Media highlights from the past week...
Council vote for new building fees poses risks to affordable housing - experts
High rents not just a city problem anymore
IRD is glossing over problems with its new tax system, fears Auckland accounting firm
Here's how Air New Zealand will get its new Dreamliners to New York direct